Man charged as RFTA driver recovers from alleged bias-motivated crime
An Aspen man faces charges of bias-motivated crimes for allegedly throwing a drink can at a bus driver after insulting him with racial and homophobic epithets.
Police arrested Shawn Anthony Beaudrault, 42, on Monday night after a driver for the Roaring Fork Transportation reported the alleged assault on Sunday.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday, the bus driver, who is Black and part of the LGBT community, said the physical pain from the attack forced him to finish his shift early. The man threw a full can of 7Up at his genitals, according to an Aspen Police Department report.
“It hit my groin,” the driver said, noting that worse was “the emotional trauma of all this happening at the same time.
“I’m taking some time away,” he said.
RFTA is giving the driver paid time off, according to Ian Adams, Director of Operations.
“The driver is understandably a little shaken up by this incident but is still employed with RFTA,” he said in a response to email questions. “He has been given a few days paid time off to clear his head around this incident.”
Phone numbers associated with Beaudrault were not working Wednesday. He posted $1,500 bond on Tuesday after being advised the same day of the charges by 9th Judicial District Judge Denise Lynch, according to a court clerk. A lawyer had not entered an appearance for Beaudrault as of Wednesday, the clerk said.
The most severe charge Beaudrault faces is a class 5 felony bias-motivated crime, which, under Colorado statute, happens when a “a person commits ethnic intimidation … with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation … or knowingly causes bodily injury to another person.”
A conviction comes with a presumptive prison sentence range of one to three years. Beaudrault also faces a misdemeanor bias-motivated crime charge, third-degree misdemeanor assault and a petty offense of criminal mischief, according to charging documents.
A police report based partly on statements from the driver and RFTA bus video surveillance said Beaudrault was the sole passenger on a RFTA bus stationed at Rubey Park when the driver took the wheel to start his shift. It was approximately 6 p.m., the report said, and Beaudrault appeared intoxicated, the driver said.
The passenger was quiet until the bus left the stop by Aspen Valley Hospital, when he told the driver, “You’re going to f–king take me home” and later said, “You don’t need to know where I live, f—king (homophobic slur removed),” the report said.
Those remarks prompted the driver to stop the bus at the Maroon Creek stop by the roundabout, telling the passenger to exit the vehicle.
“I’m not leaving your bus (racial and homophobic epithets removed),” Beaudrault replied, the report said.
He eventually left through the rear door but returned to the open front door and threw a beverage can, striking the driver, the report said.
“After the bus door was closed, the male continued to hit the door and told (the driver), ‘I’m going to get your ass,’” the report said.
Police were able to identify Beaudrault, who they knew from previous contacts, after reviewing video from the incident on Monday, the report said. Audio and video from the surveillance footage showed him yelling slurs at the driver and threatening him. The video also showed him wearing a Philadelphia Eagles football jersey, which checked out with the driver’s description of him wearing sports team clothing, the report said.
Police visited Beaudrault at his Heatherbed Lodge unit on Tuesday night, the report said. There, he told police he was originally insulted by the driver and got “caught up” in what was said. He also said the can he threw at the driver was half empty, and he was sorry he did it, the report said. Police then arrested him and booked him into the Pitkin County Jail, where he spent overnight Monday.
Beaudrauld also faces a ban from riding RFTA buses, Adams said.
“RFTA has an exclusion order policy for criminal and egregious code of conduct violations wherein individuals may be excluded from RFTA property for a period of 30 days up to a full life-time ban,” he said. “RFTA is pursuing an exclusion order against the offender in this incident.”
RFTA has yet to determine the length of the ban, he said.
“First and foremost, RFTA wants employees to be safe and secure at work,” he said in an email. “In an incident such as this, RFTA’s initial action is to make sure the offender is (prohibited) from RFTA services and property to ensure that no further issues arise from the problem individual. Secondly, employees will only return to service once they feel safe and comfortable in doing so. Thirdly, employees are referred to RFTA’s EAP (Employee Assistance Program) for counseling, which is entirely voluntary and comes at no charge to the employee.”
The alleged confrontation was upsetting on many levels to the driver.
“I think it’s so egregious that this can happen in our tight-knit community,” the driver said. “Somebody can attack the unity of our town and the equality we stand for.”
Prosecutor Don Nottingham declined to comment about the case.
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